UK Planning Laws subject to yet another rethink.

09 November 2021

Revisions are beginning to emerge

The replacement of Robert Jenrick by Michael Gove at a new department Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) that replaced the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has caused a major rethink on various aspects of planning policy that were published in the Planning for the Future White Paper.

Limited information has appeared so far, some strands of thinking have emerged in statements and the press including:

Boris Johnson signalled a ‘U’ turn on the Government's planning reforms, saying that "beautiful" homes should in future only be built "on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense".  The prime minister is determined to press ahead with boosting housing development on brownfield sites, including in the south. 

Michael Gove has indicated that he is preparing to rip up controversial housing targets, this is prompted by a review looking at how “housing need” is calculated, amid fears it is based on out-of-date assumptions. This emerged in evidence to the housing, communities and local government select committee:

He stated -  "We want to be in a position where people accept and welcome new development. In making a calculation about housing need overall, one of the things that I want to do is to look at how the numbers are generated in the first place. Some of the assumptions are probably out of date and some of the ways that those numbers are deployed by a planning inspector can be done in a more sophisticated way."

Michael Gove added that communities should be able to push back against large scale housing targets near to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and green belt land, whilst at the same time stressing that the Government was sticking with its plan for 300,000 new homes by the middle of this decade. 

It is understood that Mr Gove has instructed his Levelling Up department to boost homebuilding in the north of England, after widespread concerns that previous proposals could see development targeted overwhelmingly in the south.

The revised proposals may also facilitate communities getting a greater share of the financial benefits of granting local developments, and tougher conditions placed on developers to improve the local environment.

The press are reporting that two central proposals in the reforms, announced under his predecessor Robert Jenrick, are expected to be largely abandoned.

  1. the “zonal” approach, which would have seen local people unable to reject housing in areas designated for development, will be dropped.
  2. mandatory housebuilding targets, which have caused widespread alarm amongst some southern conservative MP’s are expected to be overhauled.

Whatever happens the continued uncertaintity on planning reforms makes long term planning in Guildford difficult.

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